New opportunities for young people

Two years ago, I first wrote on these pages about T Levels, a new technical qualification which will help young people progress directly into work.

T Levels are two year technical education courses for students aged 16 to 19, with each T Level the equivalent of three A Levels. The course will include a high-quality industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 9 weeks) of ‘on the job’ experience.

This opportunity will allow students to use the skills learned in the classroom and put them into practice.

Not only will this help to distinguish T Levels from other qualifications, the new programme will give young people the skills they need to progress; whether they go into employment, a higher or degree apprenticeship or further study, a T Level will be an important part of their journey.

T Levels differ from apprenticeships, which are usually four fifths ‘on the job’ and one fifth in the classroom and are more suited to those who know which career they want to pursue, as well as earning and learning at the same time.

Crawley College will be one of the pioneering institutions who will be providing T Levels in 2020-21. I want to thank the staff and management at Crawley College who have, in spite of the global pandemic, worked to ensure that new technical qualifications in Childcare & Education and Digital Production, Design & Development are open to students in our area at the earliest opportunity.

T Level courses will comprise of compulsory elements including a technical qualification (including core theory, concepts and skills for an industry area, and specialist skills and knowledge for an occupation or career), an industry placement with an employer, and a minimum standard in maths and English if students have not already achieved them.

Nationally, a total of three different T Levels will be made available from this autumn. Further courses will be phased in over the next three years, with an extra seven T Levels to be delivered from 2021, an additional six in 2022 and another eight in 2023.

The development of T Levels sees employers and providers working collaboratively to establish each course, supported by the Department for Education and the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education.

The programme is being backed by the Department for Education with additional funding of £500 million a year for when T Levels are fully rolled out, to help providers meet the costs of additional teaching hours and organising industry placements.

Providers will be able to apply for funding for equipment and facilities, as well as access to training to help prepare staff.

Going forward, T Levels will become one of the main choices for students after taking GCSEs, alongside A Levels and apprenticeships.

Henry Smith MP